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Struggling with early space issues


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I've got the basics of a space scanner bunker door control system in place, with a robo-miner based regloith removal system, and cooling for the miners.

I'm not thrilled with aspects of it. The cooling system doesn't seem to be great, and the approach I'm taking doesn't really allow for auto-sweepers. Not that I care about collecting the regloith, but collecting that loose iron wouldn't be bad.

I've built 4 separate systems all of which should theoretically give me steam that I can store for my first rocket. None of them work very well.

They're all aquatuner based systems where I cool something else, and transfer the heat to a small pool of petroleum. Unfortunately mostly they're too effective at cooling. Which is not terrible in other ways, obviously. I was using an AETN to handle my copper volcano's cooling and it really wasn't keeping up with it, whereas the aquatuner / steam generator setup easily cools all the copper to 20 C.

That system, after many, many cycles, finally produced a brief burst of steam heated to 175 C. I piped that to an insulated holding tank up in my space base, where the steam (which had dropped to about 160 C) promptly condensed into lukewarm water.

I guess I really screwed up the steam holding space. I figured a ceramic-walled room in vacuum would have no trouble keeping the steam hot. I think maybe the steam exchanged heat with the drywall or something.

I probably should have built steel gas reservoirs instead, and left them exposed to vacuum for insulation.

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19 minutes ago, Gus Smedstad said:

That system, after many, many cycles, finally produced a brief burst of steam heated to 175 C. I piped that to an insulated holding tank up in my space base, where the steam (which had dropped to about 160 C) promptly condensed into lukewarm water.

I guess I really screwed up the steam holding space. I figured a ceramic-walled room in vacuum would have no trouble keeping the steam hot. I think maybe the steam exchanged heat with the drywall or something.

I probably should have built steel gas reservoirs instead, and left them exposed to vacuum for insulation.

Was the room build of regular ceramic tiles or insulated ceramic tiles? I think what happened was... you pumped the steam in, it exchanged heat with the walls themselves, heated them up and in the process cooled down and became water.

If I were you, I would build a dedicated water boiler. An aquatuner would work well for that purpose, a glitched tepidizer would work much, much better if you are not against using that particular exploit. The latter was what I did and it allowed me to go through the steam stage of my space program.

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For "cooling" robo-miners good temporary solution is building them out of steel. They will work for a long time before overheating, enough for you to get some space materials and figure out how to cool them.

With steam IMO it depends whether you are planning to use it later or is it just a temporary solution to overcome unfortunate obstacle devs have put in, forcing people to use steam engine at least once-twice. You do not need complex systems, storage or anything to get some steam for 1-2 launches. Last time i did it i just built sealed room in space out of regular (not insulated) tiles with steel gas pump and some radiant liquid pipes, through which i ran petroleum used as coolant for metal refinery.

Good thing about building it in space is that there is no need for insulation and when i was done with it i just deconstructed whole thing and vented everything what was left into space, no need to deal with all the mess hot steam can cause...

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47 minutes ago, Gamma17 said:

Good thing about building it in space is that there is no need for insulation and when i was done with it i just deconstructed whole thing and vented everything what was left into space, no need to deal with all the mess hot steam can cause...

...and then all that superheated steam will hit the delicate machinery you have -- robominers, sweepers, scanners, solar panels -- and all of it will overheat until it breaks, after which you will have to deconstruct everything because repairing it will simply make your stuff overheat again.

And if you have LOX/LH gas pipes and they start heating up, well... have fun cleaning up that mess.

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The room was built out of insulated ceramic tiles. The steam still exchanged heat with something and condensed.

I do need to figure out some sort of steam generator. I don’t want to use things I consider glitches, like the thing with rapidly cycling a tepidizer.

The problem with an aqua tuner boiler is that you need to cool something. As I said, I built 4 setups designed to capture heat from an aqua tuner, and in each case they shut down because I ran into cooling limits, where running any more coolant through the aquatuner would freeze the pipes.

It’s actually kind of weird worrying about too much cold rather than too much heat, but there it is. It does have me thinking about making a base-wide cooling system now, since lots of it is running at 40+ C. The industrial section is a mess of both plumbing and gas lines, though, so I don’t know how I’d get cooling lines through there.

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I use regolith to heat up the steam. Simeple design drop some water in a room and deliver a lot of hot regolith to it. It takes a while but the water eventually boils and stays that way. I was using manual labour to do it but it`s definetly doable with conveyors. Just make sure the regolith you pick up is "fresh" at around 300oC. Bringing in hot iron works as well.

It`s a kinda lazy design but it works. You might also consider pre heating the water using the temptizer so it`s closer to boiling point before you dump it in the steam room. Might be a better idea than my first design that featured storage bins with hot regolith and ice from a nearby biome next to each other waiting for the heat exchange to happen.

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4 hours ago, Gus Smedstad said:

The problem with an aqua tuner boiler is that you need to cool something. As I said, I built 4 setups designed to capture heat from an aqua tuner, and in each case they shut down because I ran into cooling limits, where running any more coolant through the aquatuner would freeze the pipes.

Build a water pool, dump a whole bunch of hot regolith into it. Have your aquatuner cool it. That was actually the water boiler design I used to send my first steam rocket to space.

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I dumped my hot polluted water reservoir (around 200t) into a lava pool at the oil biome. It was overkill and had to make a huge pipe to get the steam up to the surface into an infinite storage. Then had to cool the piping with some worts. It was a pain, next time I will make the necessary steam on the surface with regolith. 

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I've used a couple of different methods to produce steam for my first few rockets.

1) Aquatuner in water.

This had massive issues with the steam actually reaching the rocket, it prefered to condense in the pipe (and the repairs were a massive pain).

2) Glass Forge into Pwater.

This worked well, but very very slowly. It took almost 4 tons of glass for 900kg of steam, but because Pwater boils well above the condensation temperature of steam, it was much easier to pipe.

3) Aquatuner in Pwater.

Cross between the two methods, it worked really well and fairly quickly, and produced and stored enough steam for multiple launches, while in a relatively small area (4x4 boxed in space). The issue was that the aquatuner was entombed by dirt from the Pwater.

I'm looking to implement a better system for the next run that uses the heat from the launch to vaporize enough water for the next launch, to basically make steam rockets "free" to operate.

As for where I "gathered" the heat, the glass forge is obvious, the aquatuners I just loop some oil through radiant pipes stuck into metal tiles with my surface equipment built on them. With a vent and a little liquid, it allows me to cool my buildings and produce steam, all localized near the surface. You could also use the heat from metal refineries, plastic presses, petroleum refineries or natural gas generators (which is fun because they act as an energy amplifier when you chill them).

 

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It turns out my primary problem was putting too much water into my boiler setups. I wasn't really thinking through the math. I was putting 3 tiles of water in each to start, which is 3,000 kg.  That takes a long, long time to start producing anything, particularly if the boiler has control logic to ensure you're sending superheated steam that won't condense in your pipes.

I also had a problem with the control scheme I was using in one boiler, which was feeding more water into the system after the initial load boiled. It was getting fooled into thinking there was no steam in the box because there was a single tile of oxygen covering the pressure sensor. Because of the way Oxygen Not Included gas physics works, you can have a box mostly full of steam at 1,800 kg / tile and still have one oxygen tile at 2 kg / tile.

It didn't help that I'd put maintenance access into my boilers, and the one where the steel door was in contact with oxygen was superheating the oxygen. I ended up plastering over the doors with insulated tiles, and got a couple of dupes scalded while doing it.

Eventually my boilers did end up producing steam, and in boatload lots because I'd dumped so much water into them. I still haven't addressed the problem with the holding room immediately cooling incoming steam, I switched to steel gas reservoirs instead for the moment.

I built a revised boiler that works much better. Mainly it's limited to no more than 30kg of water in a load, and no more than 1 kg/second of new water once steam pressure gets low. Also of some importance is starting the chamber as a vacuum, so the internal pressure sensors only read steam pressure.

I need to figure out how to tear down and rebuild my old boilers. In particular the copper volcano one is going to be a pain to do so safely, since the internal temperature is now above 200 C and it huge amounts of steam that it's emptying very slowly because I only put in one gas pump.

 

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